Author Corner – Emma van der Vliet

Emma van der VlietEmma van der Vliet was born in Grahamstown and spent most of her childhood there. After graduating from UCT and Rhodes, she accidentally spent ten years working in film production. She later returned to UCT, where she taught film and media, got her MA in creative writing, her PhD in Film and Media Studies, and produced several children. She lives in Observatory with her family and other animals.

Her first novel, Past Imperfect, was published by Penguin in 2007.  And earlier this year Emma’s second novel, Thirty Second World, was published.

Past Imperfect - Emma van der VlietThirty Second World Emma van der Vliet

1. From first draft, to published book, how much editing do you do?

I hadn’t realised this until quite recently, but I actually work quite slowly, editing myself as I go along. This means that I take a really long time to write something, but it’s often more finished than a first draft written by someone who likes to throw it all out onto the page and then start to work with it from there. It may just be because I’m a lazy self-editor, but I think it’s also a question of one’s working style. I think things through in my head a lot before I actually get around to putting them down on the page, and once they’re down I’m not that keen on constant reworking.

2. What research do you do for your book?

Well it depends on the book. For Past Imperfect I researched Paris, French and the French (among other things), and for Thirty Second World I researched game capture and swingers’ clubs! It depends on where your story takes you. That’s one of the great joys of writing fiction – an excuse to “research” things you might otherwise never get to know about, and the excuse to call sitting nursing a cup of hot chocolate on a Parisian pavement “work”.

3. How many words do you write, on average, per day?

When I was in full flight with Thirty Second World I was aiming for 1000 a day. I tended to find that on days that I knew I wasn’t going to get much done – if there was a school outing or another work obligation, for example – and my day was going to be eaten up and bitty, I would rather look over other sections or write up notes from the little piles of scrappy paper on the backs of shopping lists or envelopes or restaurant serviettes. I need to get into the flow to be able to get any decent chunk of writing done, so if that wasn’t going to happen I did bits of “maintenance” instead.

4. Explain your writing process – do you write an outline and fill in the story, or do you write from Chapter 1 and let the story and characters lead you?

I do a bit of both. For Past Imperfect I started with the second chapter, which was a kind of mini version of the book as a whole, a story within a story or what the French call a “mise en abyme”, because it was all about a homecoming and so was the whole novel itself. I then backtracked to the lead-up to that initial homecoming, and then let the characters lead me from there. With Thirty Second World, I had the skeleton of the film shoot itself – eventually I split the book into three sections, pre-production, production and post-production, after the phases of a film job – and the characters, starting with Beth and Alison, were already strongly present in my mind. Another of my favourite things about writing is when the characters come to life and take over, and I hear voices and conversations between them in my head. I think that’s the part I love the most – that (mostly benign) possession.

5. Is there anything you find particularly challenging in writing, and if so, how do you overcome it?

Mostly it’s just finding the time to write. And my own lack of confidence. It can be an extremely lonesome task, and while I relish my time alone, I do sometimes start to question whether what I’m writing is any good and what on earth the point is of locking myself away and spending hours staring at a screen. It’s such an undertaking, and novels are so damn long!

6. What do you do when you have writer’s block?

Push through and keep writing if I possibly can, preferably on a section which is fairly “mechanical”. Or I get one of the zillion other things on my plate done. Or if I feel I deserve it I’ll go for a walk or phone a friend or read something for the pleasure of it, and to remind me of why I’m trying to write in the first place. Writing time, where there are enough hours in a row really to get into the flow, is so precious that writer’s block is not really an option!

7. When you submit your manuscript to a publisher, what information do you include in your proposal?

For Past Imperfect I had the unheard of good fortune of having an extract from the novel “discovered” by a commissioning editor at Penguin who just happened to be reading the obscure literary journal I’d published the piece in. So she then approached me and asked whether I’d written anything else, and I could then produce the rest of the manuscript. With Thirty Second World, I approached Penguin, again, with a sort of descriptive “tagline” – the equivalent of what you see on a movie poster but a little less telegraphic! – and a brief story synopsis. But since they’d published my first one that made things a lot easier. I think the norm would be to provide a very brief story synopsis, perhaps an idea of what kind of target market the book would be aimed at, and a first chapter.

8. What advice can you give aspirant writers?

Firstly, I’d ask whether they were sure they wanted to write, and why. Not everyone is cut out for hours and hours of solitary work with little, if any, feedback. But if that doesn’t put them off, then congratulations and commiserations to them! They should go out and live life and observe other people living their lives, and try to put themselves into those people’s shoes. And take notes all the while. Eavesdropping is one of my favourite pass-times. Listen to people’s dialogues, think about what makes them tick. And just imagine.

Join Emma’s Facebook AUTHOR page – click HERE

 

Author Corner – Susan Newham-Blake

Susan Newham-Blake is a writer based in Cape Town. For the past fourteen years she has worked as a magazine journalist and editor, editing a number of customer magazines including the Clicks ClubCard magazine.

Susan has been published in a variety of women’s magazines including Marie Claire, Femina and Women’s Health. She has also been published in the anthology Just Keep Breathing (Jacana), a collection of short stories.

In 2013 Penguin Books published Susan’s first book, Making Finn.

Making FinnAbout Making Finn – Susan’s childhood dream of becoming a mother has not diminished with the revelation, alarming both to herself and her bewildered family, that she does, in fact, ‘bat for the other team’. Having made peace with her identity and having finally found a beloved partner, she is now faced with a daunting problem: with no penis around, how the hell do you make babies?

Time is of the essence: at 34 years old, Susan cannot afford to waste another moment. And so begins an unconventional journey to parenthood with some agonising decisions along the way. Should she accept help from a close and willing friend or go the anonymous sperm donor route? What are the legal and psychological implications of her options? How will her child be affected?

Told with disarming honesty, Making Finn is a warm, witty and moving first-person account of two women’s quest to create a family.

Click HERE to visit Susan Newham-Blake’s website.

1. From first draft, to published book, how much editing do you do?

While I was writing Making Finn I would start the day by reading through what I’d written the day before and give it a quick polish before proceeding. After the manuscript was finished I went through the first draft again. I did not do a huge amount of editing, but did elaborate on certain elements I felt were a bit thin, or delete any repetition. Once I was done I gave the manuscript to a trusted acquaintance who also gave me pointers on how she experienced the book. For instance, she felt I hadn’t included enough description of a particular character. I incorporated some of her suggestions before sending it off to Penguin. There were no editing requests from Penguin.

2. What research did you do for your book?

Because Making Finn is largely a memoir there was not a whole lot of research to do. However, I did refer back to emails, documents I’d kept as well as to my personal diary to check facts and order of events. I did a bit of research on the medical aspects of the book – the process of the actual fertility treatment. I also had a clinic sister check that my medical information was accurate.

3. How many words do you write, on average, per day?

When I am in the writing phase of a book I set myself a goal of at least 500 words a day. I can write this amount of words in about an hour so the goal feels manageable. If I write more than this it’s a bonus. I do on occasion write up to 2 000 words in a day but this is not usual for me given the time constraints of my full-time job and young children. I would say that on average I write about 5 000 words a week.

4. Explain your writing process – do you write an outline and then compile the chapters, or do you just start writing from Chapter 1 and let the story lead you?

I usually start writing from the beginning and let the story lead me. While I write, I make notes on characters, which I’ll refer to later on in the book to make sure I’ve got the character’s details correct. I also get loads of ideas on plot development, so I’ll make a note of this too. Sometimes I change my mind about including the idea but at least I’ve kept it. Once the story is written down I go back and I might need to change details depending on how the story has ultimately turned out.

5. Is there anything you find particularly challenging in writing, and if so, how do you overcome it?

My two biggest challenges to writing are time and self-doubt. I am not able to financially afford to make writing my career (it is unfortunately not well paid) so I really battle to create the time to sit down and write. But I also know that when I am really motivated to write or believe in what I’m writing I find it easier to create the time. So it’s got a lot to do with overcoming self-doubt. While writing Making Finn, I often had the thought: Who the hell would want to read this? And of course this is not conducive to keep writing. So I told myself I was writing the book for my sons which gave me a diversion from the worry that nobody would want to read it.

6. What do you do when you have writer’s block?

When I have writer’s block I find myself on social media platforms following Twitter and Facebook like my life depends on it. Sometimes I write blogs. This makes me feel like I am at least writing, which helps. I’m like those exercise junkies. If I don’t write anything for a while I start feeling grumpy and miserable. But ultimately I really believe that you have to just keep writing. Whether you think what you are writing is good or not, it’s in the discipline of consistently putting words onto a page that keeps the story going to the end.

7. When you submitted your manuscript to a publisher, what information did you include in your proposal?

When Making Finn was finally finished I emailed a one-page proposal letter, a three-page synopsis and the first three chapters of the book to a publisher. I had gotten tips on how to write these online. Penguin replied quite quickly requesting to see the full manuscript.

8. What advice can you give aspirant writers?

In Stephen King‘s book, On Writing, he says: “Writing fiction, especially a long work of fiction can be a difficult, lonely job; it’s like crossing the Atlantic Ocean in a bathtub. There’s plenty of opportunity for self-doubt.” The trick is to quieten the doubt and keep writing. Write, not to get published, but because it’s a thrill – you love it and it makes you happier than doing any other kind of work. I also write quickly and get that first draft down before I have time to give into the doubt.

Click HERE to like Susan on Facebook, and you can follow her on Twitter – @bbugged

 

Secrets to designing your eBook cover

Are you self-publishing your own eBook?  If so click HERE to read a good article (written by Kristen Eckstein for The Future of Ink’s website) on what to take into consideration when you are designing your e.book cover.

This is what Kristen starts out with …

When it comes to your eBook cover, I cannot stress enough how important it is to look professional.

If your cover looks like it was created in Microsoft Word, your book sales will be directly affected and even your credibility may be at stake.

Most people, especially those who spend hours online, are visual creatures. When we’re searching the web, an interesting thing happens. Pay attention to your own browsing habits.

When you browse through eBooks on Amazon, how many times do you click on the picture of the book cover image versus just the title that usually appears next to it?

We almost always gravitate towards clicking the picture because that’s what we’re looking at. Our eyes are drawn to the image. If they can’t see the image clearly in that tiny little thumbnail in an Amazon search, then potential buyers are going to pass right over it.

So if your cover, especially as a thumbnail image, is so important, what are the secrets to making it stand out from your competition?

Continue reading the article (HERE) for Kristen’s secrets to a great eBook cover, covering these five key elements:

Secret #1: Title Design

Secret #2: Art and Photos

Secret #3: Branding

Secret #4: Study what Works

Secret #5: Beware the Template

 

Author Corner – Paige Nick

Paige Nick is an author, a Sunday Times columnist and an advertising copywriter. Her debut novel, A Million Miles From Normal, was released in April 2010, and in May 2011 her second book, This Way Up, was published (both by Penguin Books).

In July 2013, Paige’s choose-your-own-adventure erotic novel, A Girl Walks into a Bar, will be released under the pseudonym Helena S Paige.  This book is co-written with Helen Moffett and Sarah Lotz.

1. From first draft, to published book, how much editing do you do?

I do zero editing when I’m writing the first draft of anything. In fact I try to read back as little as possible. There’s that thing where you hear your own recorded voice played back to you, and it sounds awful and you hate it. Well I have the same feeling when I read back something I’ve just written. The trick with a first draft is to get the story out of my head and down onto the page as fast as possible, and then I spend ages crafting and rewriting and editing at a later stage.

2. What research do you do for your books?

That depends entirely on the book. Some bits will need tons of research, and others will pop straight out of my head fully formed. I recently wrote a scene set in a photographic dark room, and since I’d never actually developed photographs myself, I had to do a ton of research on the process to get it right and make it sound authentic. But then the next scene was set in a bar, and it turns out I have already done a fair amount of research on that.

3. How many words do you write, on average, per day?

Every day is different. It’s incredibly hard to put a number to it. It also depends where I’m at in the process. If I’m in a manic writing phase of a manuscript, I’ll get down anything from 2 000 words to an absolute maximum of 10 000 on a monstrous, killer day. But then my brain will be porridge after that. If however I’m in an editing phase, then it’s less about the writing of words and more about the unpicking and reknitting of previously written words.

4. Explain your writing process – do you write an outline and fill in the story, or do you write from Chapter 1 and let the story and characters lead you?

I’m not one of those writers who can let the story and characters lead me. I like to have a plot and an outline very well prepared before I start writing the actual draft.

5. Is there anything you find particularly challenging in writing, and if so, how do you overcome it?

The naming of body parts and actions in sex scenes is a continual challenge. One of the authors I’m writing this new series of Choose-your-own-adventure erotic novels with, suggested we need a sexual Thesaurus. It’s a great idea. There are only so many things you can call the groin area, without sounding uncouth, pornographic, repetitive, or just plain silly.

6. What do you do when you have writer’s block?

If I’m struggling with a tricky plot point, or a line of dialogue that doesn’t want to come, a walk or a run will usually knock it out of my brain. Or watching mindless TV, baking, or having a sleep often works for me too. Either that or I simply keep going and write absolute crap until the good stuff comes.

7. What advice can you give aspirant writers?

It’s the most boring advice in the world. But in my experience, all you can do is keep writing every day. Write books and blog posts, and doodles and scrawls and pitches and ideas and nonsense and poetry and prose.

And then in between all that, read.

Click HERE to visit Paige’s website.

 

 

 

Rahla and Paige – Guest Authors for The Suitcase Under the Bed Seminar

Bookings are now open for our The Suitcase Under the Bed seminar, being held in Kalk Bay, Cape Town, on the 8th of June – click HERE for the details of this really informative day for aspirant writers.

Our two guest authors, who will each share their publishing journeys with you, are Rahla Xenopoulos and Paige Nick.

Rahla Xenopoulos started writing in 2002, and has had short stories published in Women Flashing, Twist and Just Keep Breathing. She has also published short stories in Glamour and O Magazine. Her story Child, Hold My Hand was chosen as one of O Magazine’s top 10 stories of 2008. In 2009 Zebra Press published A Memoir of Love and Madness, her personal account of being diagnosed with bipolar disorder. And in 2012 Penguin Books published her debut novel, Bubbles.

Visit www.rahlaxenopoulos.co.za

Paige Nick is an author, a Sunday Times columnist and an advertising copywriter. Her debut novel, A Million Miles From Normal, was released in April 2010, and in May 2011 her second book, This Way Up, was published (both by Penguin Books).

In July 2013, Paige’s choose-you-own-adventure erotic novel, A Girl Walks into a Bar, will be released under the pseudonym Helena S Paige.  This book is co-written with Helen Moffett and Sarah Lotz.

Visit www.amillionmilesfromnormal.com

 

 

 

Author Corner – Casey B Dolan

The autobiography of Casey B Dolan – actress, television presenter, entertainer, DJ, entrepreneur and singer – is freshly unpacked on the shelves of all good book stores.  Titled An Appetitie for Peas, this no-holds-barred autobiography unveils just what it is like to be that woman, the one on every magazine cover.  It is a quirky, honest appraisal of life on the other side of the lens and why being the woman nearly every man wants doesn’t necessarily get you what you want, especially when it comes to relationships.

“I have done some really brave things in my life. I, too, have done some really stupid ones. The line between these is precariously thin and I have far too often crossed it . . .”

1.       From first draft, to published book, how much editing do you do?

A whole bunch. Every time I review the text I change something. In fact, I deleted the first 60 pages of my book and started again after my editor told me it was rocky…only because I agreed! I eventually, after say five full length reads, stop looking at it and hand it over to the editor for good: like a bad relationship; you have to know when to leave it alone and move on!

2.       What research did you do for your book?

Well in my case, being an autobiography I didn’t have to do much research at all. The beauty about writing about your own experiences when you are still fairly young is that you recall most of what you need and they are entirely phenomenological.

3.       How many words do you write, on average, per day?

I have a four-year-old son. Need I say more?! Writing is erratic and the process is very frustrating, I aim for an hour and half in the morning and the same at night, but it’s a bit like ‘knit-one-pearl-one’, some days I manage more some less, but if I can get say between two and three pages down in the morning and the same at night I feel satisfied. I would say I average 2000 – 3000 words.

4.       Explain your writing process – do you write an outline and then compile the chapters, or do you just start writing from Chapter 1 and let the story lead you?

For my autobiography I just wrote what I felt was pertinent and interesting and followed a thread. So in this case I allowed the story to lead me. I am currently 70 000 words into writing my first novel and it’s a mind-blowing process – what I term a boxing match every time I start to type. Just when I think I have a plan the story heads in a different direction and I feel like I am playing an exciting and frustrating game of catch up without any rules. I love it but I certainly wouldn’t call it a process, I would call it a game of chase.

5.       Is there anything you find particularly challenging in writing, and if so, how do you overcome it?

There is no aspect of the writing process that I don’t find challenging. But I am equally compelled to pen my thoughts, ideas and stories. The discipline of writing when you would much rather put your feet up and read someone else’s brilliant work, the desperate feeling that you could never be the creator of such brilliance and the knowledge that you will never stop trying…this is all very challenging. But as for ideas and the relief of giving life to an idea that may touch other people in some way, well that’s what creativity is all about and it’s entirely addictive to say the least. I have always loved challenge.

6.       What do you do when you have writer’s block?

I go for a long walk in the forest, clear my mind and go home and write. Write, write, write…it’s the only way to unblock a block.

7.       When you submitted your manuscript to a publisher, what information did you include in your proposal?

A brief synopsis, why I felt it needed to be published i.e. What made it different, appealing and my details.

8.       What advice can you give aspirant writers?

Don’t judge what you write, there are many, many people to do that for you, your judgement develops internal fear and fear is the antithesis of creativity. Write, everyone has a story, writing is thinking put in focus and a gateway to your wildest dreams.

Click HERE to visit Casey’s website.

 

 

The Pitch …

There’s a succinct little phrase that’s spilled over into publishing, I suspect from the movie industry – the elevator pitch – and I rather like it. If you found yourself in an elevator with Steven Spielberg in the Four Seasons Hotel in LA and this was your one opportunity to pitch your movie idea to him, how would you do it? You have maybe twelve floors before those doors are going to open and the chances of your ever getting an audience with him again are about nil. Three minutes tops, and he has his eyes fixed on the changing numbers above the door (he’s heard about the elevator pitch too), so what’s going to grab his attention? Certainly not ‘People keep telling me my life’s been so interesting it would make a great movie …’ He’ll have pressed the button for the next floor in a heartbeat and you won’t see him for carpet mites.

To attract the attention and interest of a publisher or agent, these days you could do worse than buff up an elevator pitch to go with your fuller synopsis, covering letter and first three chapters. Publishers hear the ‘people keep telling me my life’s been so interesting it would make a great book’ speech fairly regularly and I can promise you it doesn’t make their hearts race a little faster.

Whether you plan to approach an agent in the hope of being taken on as a client and finding your way to a publisher this way, or whether you are going direct to a publisher, the pitch and presentation for these two routes will be roughly the same.

By now you will have done your research thoroughly, and you will have targeted an agency or publishing house which looks like they take on authors who are writing your kind of book. You will have checked their requirements and complied with these. You will have polished up your first three chapters until they’re shining like diamonds, and have your synopsis succinct and not over long. The synopsis will be headed by your elevator pitch, five intriguing lines that will make an agent take notice and read on.

For your synopsis, longer than three or four pages is probably too long, but one paragraph may be under cooking it. It’s OK to reveal the plot in the synopsis – it’s not the same as the back cover blurb – but not in intense detail.

The writer Douglas Kennedy once told me that when he’s working on a new novel, he keeps a piece of paper stuck above his desk with the word KISS on it: Keep it simple, stupid. It’s good advice for your synopsis … not that I’d dream of calling you stupid.

Don’t forget to include a brief biographical piece in your covering material. This needn’t list your hobbies or record the fact that you won an English prize in 1978. It’s your glittering prose now, in 2013, in your debut novel that needs to captivate. If you’re writing non-fiction, however, particularly in an area of specialisation or competition, do list your credentials. For example, if your book is about post-traumatic stress disorder in conflict areas of Africa, it would be important to know how come you’re qualified to write about this. The publisher should immediately understand why your view and your book in this field might be a valuable contribution.

Do write a covering letter or email, but don’t include your full synopsis or your biographical piece in it. Try not to waffle. Also try to resist claiming that your book is way better than Wilbur Smith or any of the rubbish that’s out there on the shelves or that you absolutely know this is going to be a bestseller. Steer clear of suggesting who might play your main character in the movie (this is especially a no go area if you’re in the elevator with Spielberg). Some of the ‘rubbish’ that’s out there on the shelves has probably been agented or published by the same publisher you’re bragging to and that’s not a good start to a relationship. All this is doing is telling the publisher that at best you are insecure, have delusions, and don’t know very much about publishing or bookselling; at worst that you are arrogant, dismissive and disrespectful of other authors who have worked just as hard, if not harder, than you have to get where they are. And it’s disrespectful of the publishing process, too, which you’re asking to be part of.

Before you write that covering letter, remind yourself of these four fundamental questions you need to know the answers to: Why am I writing? Who is my audience? What are my hopes for my writing? What are my expectations? 

Articulate these answers, more particularly the last three, in your covering letter. Do this again if you get a ‘call back’, ie if the publisher or agent asks to see more material, or if you go into the office to meet with the commissioning editor. It’s important that everyone – writer, agent, editor, publisher – understands expectations at the outset of a publishing relationship. A disconnect here can often lead to disappointment later on. Your own expectations will be optimistic, even confident; the publisher’s might appear conservative in your eyes. The closer you can draw the two together will make for a stronger working relationship going forward.

 

Franschhoek Literary Festival – Session

Are you an aspiring author and attending the Franschhoek Literary Festival?  Do you need some practical advice about publishing?  Then you need to attend THE SUITCASE UNDER THE BED session at the festival where Alison Lowry and Tracey McDonald will give you invaluable insight on how best to go about this.

This is a double session (Friday, the 17th of May – starts at 14h30 and finishes at 17h00). To book, click HERE – the session is No. 28, being held in the Library.

 

Author Corner – Alistair Morgan

Photograph of writer Alistair MorganAlistair Morgan was born in Johannesburg and he currently lives and works in Cape Town. He has previously published two short stories: Icebergs and Departure and both appeared in the Paris Review – issues 183 (Winter, 2007) and 185 (Summer, 2008) respectively.  In 2009 he also became the first non-American to win the Plimpton Prize.

Sleeper’s Wake was Alistair’s debut novel, and the much acclaimed film adaptation of this book screened in South African cinemas, in March 2013.  His second novel, The Land Within, was published in 2012.

1.       From first draft, to published book, how much editing do you do? 

For me the editing process never stops. Whenever I see published copies of my books I open them up and find things I’d like to change. It’s a living hell. But I do tend to do a lot of structural changes during the early drafts. The later drafts are more about the finessing and polishing of sentences, words and punctuation.

2.       What research do you do for your book? 

It really depends on the book. Sometimes if you’re struggling to get a book going it’s simply because you don’t know enough about your subject or characters. As soon as you have a sufficient understanding of the subject matter you’ll find the words come more easily. Once I’ve finished a draft I will ask someone who knows a lot about a particular subject to check for any errors or inaccuracies.

3.       How many words do you write, on average, per day? 

I never go by word count. To me it’s pointless to write a thousand words a day if those words aren’t worth keeping. So sometimes it’s fifty and sometimes it’s five hundred. But never more. Philip Roth said that fluency is usually a sign that something is wrong. I prefer feeling that something is wrong because that way I’m more cautious about the words I put down. Basically, if it’s not hurting you’re not doing it right.

4.       Explain your writing process – do you write an outline and fill in the story, or do you write from Chapter 1 and let the story and characters lead you? 

I’m still trying to work that out myself. It might be a bit of both. You think you have an idea mapped out, but then you start writing and you realise that what you’re writing feels better than what you had mapped out, so you end up just trusting the process and working it out as you go along. But it does obviously help to have a vague aim or goal, especially with regards to themes. The important thing is to have a sense of a character or situation that really grabs you, that doesn’t go away with time. Then you know you have something that will draw you to your desk every day for the next two or three years.

5.       Is there anything you find particularly challenging in writing, and if so, how do you overcome it? 

Starting something new is really difficult. And you always forget how difficult it is. It feels like you’ve never done it before. It usually takes me three or four months to write the first chapter, even if it’s only a few pages long. It speeds up a little after that, thank God, but it’s so important to get the tone and balance of things working right from the start. The only way to overcome it is to tell yourself that it’s always like this and that with perseverance and patience things will get better.

6.       What do you do when you have writer’s block? 

I weep. And then I try reading something by a favourite author that I know will inspire me. Or else I read a little more about my subject or just think things through carefully. But it’s actually a good thing to get blocked from time to time. It’s your mind’s way of telling you to stop and have an objective look at what you’re doing. The best cure is a long walk followed by a bottle of red wine.

7.       When you submit your manuscript to a publisher, what information do you include in your proposal? 

For my first novel I sent my agent a synopsis with the manuscript. But the second time round he said he didn’t need a synopsis, which was great because they’re harder to write than novels. So I think it depends on your agent or publisher. They will tell you what they need, or else their website will often have information on their submission requirements.

8.       What advice can you give aspirant writers? 

Don’t have children.